Breonna Taylor judgment: Who is Daniel Cameron? All about Kentucky Attorney General in the eye of the storm

Kentucky's first Black attorney who was an independent special prosecutor in Taylor's case is facing heat after no direct charges were filed against the officers involved in the shooting


                            Breonna Taylor judgment: Who is Daniel Cameron? All about Kentucky Attorney General in the eye of the storm
Breonna Taylor protest site and Daniel Cameron (Getty Images)

The death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot by Louisville police in March this year, has put Kentucky's top prosecutor Daniel Cameron into the limelight as he brought the case before a grand jury.

However, the grand jury's decision on September 23 triggered nationwide protests as the jury decided to bring no direct charges against the officers involved in Taylor's killing. This has fueled resentment and criticism against Cameron, Kentucky's first Black attorney who was an independent special prosecutor in Taylor's case. Cameron attended a news conference in the state capital of Frankfort to explain the grand jury's decision and said, "Justice is not often easy. It does not fit the mold of public opinion, and it does not conform to shifting standards."

A demonstrator holds a painting of Breonna Taylor during a protest near the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct on June 7, 2020, in Seattle, Washington (Getty Images)

He continued, "I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges announced today." He also railed against celebrities, influencers and activists, specifically those outside of Kentucky, who "will try to tell us how to feel, suggesting they understand the facts of this case, that they know our community and the Commonwealth better than we do — but they don't".

Speaking on the public outrage, he said, "I urge those protesting on the streets to remember this: Peaceful protests are your right as an American citizen. Instigating violence and destruction are not. I spoke with both Mayor Fischer and Governor Beshear in the days leading up to this announcement to do what is necessary to maintain law and order and to protect our cities and our people. We have a long road ahead, both as we pursue this case through the criminal system. And as we address the pain in the local community. I'm committed to being part of the healing process."

Based on the evidence presented by Cameron's office, the grand jury indicted only one officer involved in the police raid that led to Taylor's death, who was killed in her Louisville apartment. The officer, Sgt Brett Hankison, was fired in June and faces three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, accused of firing blindly into several apartments and recklessly endangering the lives of Taylor's neighbors.
 
After the news conference of September 23, President Donald Trump called Cameron "a star" and read Cameron's statement where he says "justice is not easy". In sharp contrast to this, public rage is mounting against Cameron which makes us shed some light on his background. 

Who is Daniel Cameron?

Daniel Jay Cameron serves as the 51st Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. One historical fact is that he is the first African American elected to a statewide office in Kentucky's history and also the first Republican elected to the Attorney General’s office since 1948.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron stands on stage in an empty Mellon Auditorium while addressing the Republican National Convention on August 25, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Born in 1985, Cameron grew up in Elizabethtown of Kentucky. His mother was a professor at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and his father owned a local coffee shop. He attended the John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown and later won a prize scholarship named in honor of Senator Mitch McConnell to attend the University of Louisville. During his time at Louisville, he played on the Louisville Cardinals football team between 2005 and 2006. 
 
He graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Science in 2008. He also graduated from the Brandeis School of Law in 2011 where he was the president of the Student Bar Association, fielding himself into the arena of law. 

Courier Journals reported about his career in the field of law which started in 2011. As per the site, he worked for two years as a law clerk for US District Judge Gregory F Van Tatenhove. Later, he worked as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's legal counsel for nearly two years, where he was given the duty to ensure the office was compliant with Senate ethics rules. As McConnell's general counsel, Cameron handled a legislative portfolio. It dealt with a wide range of issues coming through the GOP leader's office — federal judiciary, law enforcement and criminal justice matters, patent and trademark issues and Kentucky telecommunications, Courier Journal reported. 
 
His career took flight in 2017 when he joined Frost Brown Todd, one of the most prominent law firms in Kentucky. In 2019, he came to the spotlight when he declared he will be running for the Attorney General of Kentucky. He was endorsed by Trump too. However, a September 2019 lawsuit sought to remove Cameron from the ballot, Courier Journal reported. The lawsuit alleged that Cameron didn't meet the Kentucky constitutional requirement to have "been a practicing lawyer eight years before his election". 

Democratic former attorney general Greg Stumbo also posed similar questions on Cameron's qualifications. He said, "We can't find one instance of Cameron having prosecuted a case — criminal or civil. It's a serious question and one that needs to be resolved." Despite this Cameron went on to defeat Greg Stumbo in the November 2019 general election and was elected as the Attorney General of Kentucky. 
 
Coming to Breonna Taylor's case, many protesters had long demanded that Cameron criminally charge the three officers involved in her shooting. This includes Sgt Jonathan Mattingly, officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove. However, in July, Cameron mentioned he still has no timeline for when his office will conclude its investigation of the case. It is only now that the grand jury has taken a decision in the case that Cameron was looking after as the AG of Kentucky state. 

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